The Agbero Blog
Monday, December 17, 2007
Iya Sidikat poured me two shots of paraga and I quickly downed the drink. The hot liquor sped down my throat, hit my chest with the force of ten thousand thunderbolts and restored heat into my harmattan-beaten body. I exhaled with a long “Aahhhhhhhhhhhh.”
“Fara bale, bobo yi. Cool down!” Rashidi admonished.
I slapped my chest vigourously and thrust the cup into the woman’s face. She looked at me like I don kolo, but my eyes were so red and hard that she quickly poured me two extra shots.
Closing my eyes, I swallowed the drink. Tiny veins in my brain imploded. My closed-eye vision turned red, then purple. My chest smarted. I screamed.
Rashidi bellowed with laughter. “Alagbara!”
I shook my head, saying nothing as I regained composure. Blood go flow like water dis morning. One bastard was gbemu-ing to me. One bastard conductor. Oloshi! He refused to pay my shandy yesterday bicos him carry one yeye staff. Today na today!
Shagaya ran to me at the bus stop and collapsed the floor. He was holding his left eye and his hands were covered in blood. Rashidi and I left the driver we were harassing and ran to Shagaya.
I lifted Shagaya to his feet and through his uncovered eye he looked at me. The words spattered out of his mouth like Baba Odeku’s battered danfo engine.
“Talk! Abi you dey craze?”
“Ehn? Wetin Haruna do again?”
He narrated the sorry tale of how Haruna had beaten him up over a plate of ewa-aganyin. See, Shagaya is my younger brother, but him no sharp like me. We dey by-force am sometimes to even slap somebody. Haruna was always beating him up, capitalizing on his easy-going nature. But I don warn dat boy severally yet him no go hear. Maybe it was time to teach him a lesson.
I gave Shagaya a few slaps, sending him cowering. He kept screaming “Egbon please! Egbon please!” embarrassing me at the bus stop, so I left him. I pushed him forward.
“Oya now, let’s go.”
Rashidi stayed back to help me with the levy collection. The thing no dey hard for morning as everybody dey always cooperate. Na for afternoon or evening dem head dey craze wey dem go dey talk story. Like that bastard conductor. God save am say him never pass dis morning. If God is on him side, he had better sneaked past before I returned.
Haruna was feeling like a king when we got to him house. He and the other boys were seated in front of his house discussing Chelsea and Mourinho. When he saw me coming, with Shagaya skipping ahead, he almost turned white. His eyes bulged out of his sockets like he was having a heart attack.
The kain blow wey I give am, him no believe. Kia-kia, he was on the floor prostrating and pleading. I drew him up with one hand and punched him in the eye. He screamed like a LASTMA siren and sagged in my grip. The other boys stood at a distance, not daring to come near.
“If you touch my brother again!”
“Egbon, I no go touch am!”
“If you touch Shagaya again.”
“I swear, lai-lai, I no go touch am!”
I dropped the fool to the floor and turned to go. Haruna’s mother came out of the house with a broom and I stopped to greet her.
“Good morning, ma.”
“How are you, Taju?”
I paused for a moment expecting something, but she kissed the broom to the floor and started sweeping like nothing had happened.
The morning rush was over and Rashidi and I sat on a bench under the pedestrian bridge. Scorpion’s car arrived and he alighted to the kowtows of the numerous smart guys. We stood up from our seat as he approached.
“Baba o!” we greeted. He acknowledged our greeting with a flick of his bejewelled hand. We sat down again and extracted the morning collections from our pockets. I counted 5,620 naira, taking care not to bring out the five-hundi that I had stashed at the bottom of my pocket.
Soon, Agbawo came along for our takings. He eyed Rashidi’s 4k plus with suspicion but gleamed at my takings.
“Big boy. We go soon promote you. Well done.” All the while he was addressing me, he was glaring at Rashidi. When he left Rashidi vented his anger on me.
“I no like am o! I know like am at all. Why you go always dey make me look like that? The guy go think say I dey steal him money now.”
“But you dey steal am now,” I cut in gently.
“You dey craze? You know wetin I dey talk now.”
“I know, and I don tell you well well. You dey too steal the money. Do am small small.”
“I don hear you. Na here you go die!”
I was resting during the afternoon shift. It wouldn’t be until four before I got on my second shift for the day. The conductor fellow had still not passed. I’m sure his father must have been a babalawo or his mother was a witch. Lucky Bastard. I go catch am sha.
Pasuma’s singing voice told me my phone was ringing. I extracted the Nokia N73 that one boy from Computer Village had sold me and found the caller to be Shagaya. Wetin again? Haruna don kill am dis time?
“Ki lo de?”
“Boda mi! That boy don come area o!”
“That Yahoo boy that sold you that bad laptop.”
“Ehn! Where him dey?”
“He don enter dem Goddy’s compound.”
“I dey come!”
I sprang up from where I was lying down and grabbed my shirt off the bridge support. God don catch am! The laptop that the bastard sold me four months ago packed up just after two days. I don call am die and the guy just dey post me. After a while him no even pick my calls again. He think say I be maga abi? I will beat him till he begins to dance Yahoozey.
Shagaya was waiting in front of Goddy’s compound, watching out for the guy for me. Correct guy. Sometimes he can be useful.
“He hasn’t come out o, bros.”
“Which room did he enter?”
“I no know o!”
“Okay. Thanks. Go home.”
Shagaya left and I entered the compound. It wasn’t a house really, so we called it “compound.” It was a U-shaped structure divided into some twenty rooms, all with doors facing a common courtyard. It had no gates and a communal toilet and bathroom were located at the back. Enough of that rubbish.
I strode to the first room. The door was locked from outside with a giant padlock. The second room was locked too. With two giant padlocks. I thought the third one would have three, but the door was slightly ajar. I banged on it. A gruff “Yes?” came from inside and a towel-clad old man appeared at the door with a pool paper in his hands.
“Sorry, sir,” I muttered and moved to the next room. The man retreated into his room like he was used to strangers banging on his door and then saying sorry. Maybe he was.
The door to the next room was wide open. A woman sat on the floor with five kids scattered in sleeping positions all over the floor.
I scanned all the rooms like that till I came to the fourteenth one. The door was again slightly ajar here. I banged on it, already getting too angry with frustration. A female voice answered from within.
I pushed the door open and entered. On the single mattress on the floor was my guy with his shirt off, and the sweet ugly girl in his arms. I smiled when I saw him. He didn’t return my smile, but fidgeted, groping on the bed for something that wasn’t missing.
“Ah, bros. Na you be this.”
“Yes o. Na me.” I didn’t even acknowledge the girl. I almost didn’t even see her.
He stood up, pushing the girl roughly to a side. “Make we talk outside, bros.”
“Na here we go talk. Where my money?”
“Em what? You dey craze? Your mama wan die? You papa wan get accident?”
I heard a wince at the vehemence of my words. It was the girl. The boy licked his lips and couldn’t get words out of his mouth.
“Give me all your phones.” I knew he had like five.
“Bros, cool down now.”
“Make I cool down? You don dey craze!” I accompanied my retort with a slap. A kick in the groin followed. He buckled and fell unto the bed. I jerked him up by his trousers and removed all the contents of his pockets. He didn’t even try to resist. I found only four phones, but that was good enough. I removed his wallet too. His four phones must cost close to 100k; they looked pretty expensive. The fake laptop he sold to me was only forty grand.
“When you have my money, come meet me for bus stop and you go collect all your things back. Intact.”
“Bros, I beg…” he managed to say.
I ignored his pleas. “If you don’t come before seven tonight, consider all these things sold.”
To drive my point home, I picked up his shirt from where it hung by the window sill and draped it over my shoulder. I took a last glance at the frightened girl and exited the room.
So, here I am at the end of another day, sitting at my laptop, typing this useless thing. Why I do it, I don’t even know. My Starcomms connection time would end by 9pm so I better hurry to post this thing.
The conductor boy did not come around today. Perhaps, he don fear. I will give you the full gist on what he did later. The boy can run o, but he can never run forever. One day I go catch am, and then? Well, you can only imagine. The Yahoo boy too don run o. With all his shakara he didn’t even show face. I will give him till tomorrow evening, then I will sell his phones. The nasty things did not even allow me to rest; they kept ringing like bicycle bells. I had to switch them off one by one.
8:56. Make I hit this “Post” button jo. Tomorrow is another day.